Seahawks sophomore catcher Lexi Webb, center, is leading the team with a 99% fielding average, followed not far behind by freshman second baseman Lilah Millender, at right. [ David Adlerstein | The Times ]
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Wewa, Franklin County square off Thursday

The sixth-seeded Port St. Joe Lady Tiger Sharks, with a lackluster regular season record of 8-15, proved to be the surprise of last week’s District 4 tournament in Class 1A FHSAA girls softball in Eastpoint, as they downed both Wewa and Franklin County

But a bases-loaded single to left field in the bottom of the seventh handed the top-seeded Liberty County Lady Bulldogs the district title.

And with the Lady Tiger Sharks’ only hopes to advance to regionals riding on winning that district championship, Port St. Joe had to settle for the end of what had been a strong postseason.

Based on their strong regular season records, which helps shape the final rankings which determines who advances, the district third-seed Wewahitchka Lady Gators (12-12) will now be the visiting team on Thursday, May 9 at 7 p.m. in Eastpoint, when they take on the district second-seed Franklin County (15-11).

Liberty County (18-6) plays host that night to Cottondale (12-8). The winners of those two games meet Tuesday, May 14 at 7 p.m. at an undetermined site.

Liberty County had a smooth ride into the district title game, after they clobbered Bozeman 16-0 April 30. The fifth-seeded Lady Bucks (10-12) had beat up on the fourth-seeded Blountstown Lady Tigers (9-11) the night before 20-4.

In the semifinals April 30, the Lady Tiger Sharks downed Franklin County 3-1 in a seven-inning rain delayed game.

Bishop had a dominating night on the mound against the Lady Seahawks, striking out eight and walking six while giving up just two hits over seven innings.

Franklin County junior Sarah Ham gave up three earned runs on seven hits, striking out nine while walking four.

After Ham struck out two in the opening inning, Bishop got to work in the bottom of the inning, as Ham, the leadoff hitter, beat out a hard grounder to shortstop and then stole second. Seventh grader Shasta Butler then beat out a bunt giving the Lady Seahawks an excellent scoring opportunity.

With the only mistake a passed ball that advanced both runners. Bishop struck out three batters in a row, and the game remained scoreless.

Ham and Bishop each faced four batters in the second but there were no runs crossing the plate.

Port St. Joe got all three of their runs in the top of the third.

Following a strikeout by Fleming, sophomore Trinity Farmer singled up the middle, and then stole second. Silcox’s short pop fly to left center dropped in as an error, and both she and Farmer were safe on the corners.

Farmer stole second, and then Creekmore walked, loading the bases.

A fly ball to short left center off Bishop’s bat scored two runs. On the next play, Newman’s fly to short right hit the ground safely, and Creekmore beat the throw to the plate, for the third run. Clayton ended the inning with a ground out to Butler.

The Lady Seahawks got on the board in the bottom of the inning, as junior Micahlayn O’Neal hit a sacrifice fly that brought home Butler.

Port St. Joe loaded the bases in the top of the fourth, but Ham made sure they were all left on base when she struck out Gainer.

A steady light rain delayed play in the fourth and five innings, but once it quit and the game resumed, there was no further scoring.

Against Wewahitchka April 29, the Lady Tiger Sharks plated two runs in the top of the first, and then one each in the second and third innings, giving them a four-run lead before the Lady Gators whittled it down to one by scoring two runs in the bottom of the third and one more in the fourth.

But the Lady Tiger Sharks came back hard by scoring runs in each of the next three innings, two in the fifth, five in the sixth and two in the seventh, to go up 13-3 with Wewa heading into their last at-bats in the seventh inning. Wewa scored a run, but that was all, and the score stood at 13-4.

Sophomores Brooklyn Bishop and Christina Clayton combined to pitch a masterful game from the mound, giving up just two earned runs on seven hits, each striking out one and Bishop allowing just one walk.

Freshman Anniston Gainer blasted a pair of home runs, and Bishop one, to lead the attack, with Gainer responsible for three runs batted in on two hits

Senior Addy Creekmore, sophomore Elli Newman, Bishop and Clayton each had two hits and two RBIs, while senior Maya Itzkovitz and junior Addy Silcox each had one hit and one RBI.

Junior Bri Fleming had two hits, including a double, and sophomore Trinity Farmer had one hit.

The Lady Tiger Sharks were without head coach Melissa Walker, who had announced earlier she planned to step down at the end of the school year, but following Senior Night, chose to leave early for personal reasons.

Assistant coach Tanner Jones, the school’s athletic director, stepped in, along with assistant Halie Jasinski, a former Port St. Joe softball player and teacher on staff.

“She knows her Xs and Os,” said Superintendent Jim Norton. “These two people are ready to step up.”

In the district championship May 2, Port St. Joe drew first blood, as they loaded the bases, and then Bishop dropped a Texas Leaguer into center field to score the runner. But consecutive strikeouts by Lady Bulldog starter senior Lauren Grantham ended the threat.

The Lady Tiger Sharks extended their lead to two runs in the top of the third, when Creekmore slapped a hit to short left center, and then Gainer got to first on a fumbled throw in from a caught fly ball. Bishop ripped  a hit to right center, Creekmore advanced to third and then Grantham bobbled a bunt try that enabled her to score.

In  the bottom of the fifth, Liberty tied the game with two runs, setting up the walk-off win.

Junior Chesnee Hires laced a single down the left field line. A bunt by senior Kallan Mercer put two on, and then a walk to senior Gabrie Flowers loaded the bases with no outs. 

Jones brought in Bishop to pitch and on a 3-2 count, she gave up a single to left by freshman Abella Faircloth, for the 3-2 win.

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Meet the Editor

David Adlerstein, The Apalachicola Times’ digital editor, started with the news outlet in January 2002 as a reporter.

Prior to then, David Adlerstein began as a newspaperman with a small Boston weekly, after graduating magna cum laude from Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts. He later edited the weekly Bellville Times, and as business reporter for the daily Marion Star, both not far from his hometown of Columbus, Ohio.

In 1995, he moved to South Florida, and worked as a business reporter and editor of Medical Business newspaper. In Jan. 2002, he began with the Apalachicola Times, first as reporter and later as editor, and in Oct. 2020, also began editing the Port St. Joe Star.

Wendy Weitzel The Star Digital Editor

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